The winners of the hugely anticipated Leesa Northwest Football Awards 2017, recognising those who have achieved footballing excellence both on and off the pitch in the 2016/17 season, from both the Men and Women’s football leagues, from Conference though to Premier League, have been announced.
Over 550 guests packed The Point at Emirates Old Trafford last night (13th November) at a glitzy black-tie event in Manchester, hosted by the BBC’s Dan Walker.
In its tenth anniversary year, the Leesa Northwest Football Awards awarded its inaugural Impact Award to Liverpool Football Club’s James Milner. The new award recognises the significant positive impact on football in the region and in particular James’ work off the pitch, through the James Milner Foundation, which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help positively change the lives of many people.
One of the night’s big winners was Brian Kidd, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his incredible career in North West football, both as a player and a coach at Manchester United Football Club and Manchester City Football Club. His award saw Manchester truly as a City United, with his honour presented by Manchester City Captain, Vincent Kompany, alongside members of the infamous Class of ’92 – Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, who all paid tribute to “Kiddo”.
The 2016/17 Manager of the Year award winner was Gary Bowyer, manager of Blackpool Football Club, for his work steadying the ship for the Seasiders and leading the Club to promotion back to League One in his first season in charge and has earned well-deserved accolades for handling the pressure both inside and outside of the dressing room.
Daniel Taylor from The Guardian was awarded the title of Football Journalist of the Year, for his work uncovering and reporting on football’s sexual-abuse scandal – in particular Daniel’s interview with Andy Woodward, which prompted many further victims to come forward with allegations involving more than 300 clubs. His award was presented to him by survivors and founders of The Offside Trust, Chris Unsworth and Steven Walters.
The Unsung Hero was awarded posthumously to Gordon Lawton of Oldham Athletic Football Club, a club legend described as the ‘heart and soul’ of the Club. Gordon passed away in June aged 63. He had worked for the Latics for more than 30 years fulfilling a number of different roles including programme editor, club commentator, media manager and football secretary, and was a well-known face among players and fans at Boundary Park. His award was accepted by his wife, Lorraine.
The Fabrice Muamaba Award for Outstanding Service to Football Medicine and Science award went to Dr Ian Irving, who recently retired from his role as Club doctor at Everton Football Club, having worked alongside nine managers during his 39 year tenure.
With all of the player categories voted for by football fans, the winners were:
Player of the Year – Premier League award winner is David Silva – Manchester City Football Club
The Spain playmaker joined City in 2010 and after 40 goals in 231 appearances and five domestic trophies, continues to pull the strings on the pitch for one of Europe’s most exciting attacking sides.
Rising Star of the Year award winner is Phil Foden – Manchester City Football Club
One of the brightest talents to emerge from the Manchester City Academy, the 17-year-old from Stockport starred for England as they won the U17s World Cup last month, winning the Golden Ball best player of the tournament award.
Player of the Year – Championship award winner is Ben Pearson – Preston North End Football Club
The North End midfielder has impressed since joining the club in January 2016, making over 50 appearances for the club and establishing himself as one of the best midfielders in the Championship, thanks his tenacious, box-to-box style.
Player of the Year – League One award winner is David Wheater – Bolton Wanderers Football Club
The stalwart defender has shone in the heart of the Wanderers’ defence with many star performances over the last year and has now made almost 150 appearances for the Trotters since 2011.
Player of the Year – League Two award winner is Sean McConville – Accrington Stanley Football Club
The influential midfielder who joined Stanley from Chester in June 2015, made 17 assists last season and scored six goals, including a stunner in the FA Cup that had fans and commentators raving.
Player of the Year – National League award winner is Andy Cook – Tranmere Rovers Football Club
After being last season’s 23 goal top scorer, Andy Cook has carried on where he left off at Prenton Park this season, and the big, powerful striker has earned a reputation as one of Non-Leagues most feared hit men.
The Fine Bedding Company Women’s Player of the Year award winner is Caroline Weir – Liverpool Ladies
The highly-rated Dunfermline-born Scottish international midfielder, still only 21, has starred for Liverpool Ladies and the Scottish women’s team over the last 12 months.
Women’s Rising Star of the Year award winner is Keira Walsh – Manchester City Women’s Football Club
Originally from Rochdale, the young midfielder is a true rising star of the women’s game and has been pivotal for the Blues since returning from injury last summer.
FAN TV Channel of the Year award winner is The Redmen TV
Recognising the rise in popularity of this new platform ‘for the fans, by the fans’, the Liverpool fans’ channel has thousands of followers and broadcasts after every game with stats, sketches, analysis, features, interviews and real fan opinions.
There were fiercely contested awards too for clubs doing incredible work in the community, including:
Community Club of the Year – Premier League, award winner is Burnley Football Club in the Community.
Community Club of the Year – All other Leagues, award winner is Wigan Athletic Community Trust
Community Initiative of the Year, award winner is Bolton Wanderers Community Trust – Positive Chances
Kick It Out Promoting Inclusion award winner – Non-League – Cerebral Palsy United Football Club
Kick It Out Promoting Inclusion award winner – League – Everton Football Club and Everton in the Community – Positively Promoting Equality and Diversity
The Kick It Out Promoting Inclusion Award is a new award, created to recognise people, programmes and organisations working hard to make football in the North West more accessible and inclusive.
The judges were looking for partnerships, activities and projects that demonstrated ways to encourage participation and engagement across all levels of football in the area, from grassroots to the professional game, which both Cerebral Palsy United and Everton Football Club.
Business Awards went to:
Best Club Marketing, Sponsorship & Engagement award winner is Everton Football Club – 2017/18 Season Ticket Campaign – One for All/All for One
Business and Professional Services to Football award winner is Stream AMG – Media Platform.
Laura Wolfe, managing director of Wolfesport and the Leesa Northwest Football Awards said: “The Leesa Northwest Football Awards proudly celebrates ten years of the best of football, on and off the pitch, from across the region, whilst remembering some incredible winners over the past ten years.
“We are proud to honour the dedicated, hard-working, talented and inspirational people from our great football clubs and those businesses that support them; we honour our heroes – some well-known and some unsung – on what is an incredible night of celebration for North West football.
“We are immensely proud of what we have created and wish to congratulate all our finalists and winners. Football is much more than just about what happens on the pitch and these awards celebrate the clubs, people and organisations across the sport in our region who are truly leading the way and setting an example for the rest of the UK, across both the men’s and women’s games, positively impacting local communities socially and economically.”